"[T]he people in the middle ... do not want to have a president elected based on red meat"

Doubling down on his strategy of running responsibly when base voters seem to crave bombast, Romney said: “You said that our voters wanted red meat and that they therefore need a person who will give that red meat. I’m saying … that’s not who I am, and that’s not going to be successful in the final analysis. … “If … they want language that’s so incendiary that it really excites them, then some can offer that in a primary. And you can be assured that they’ll lose in the general. Because the people who decide elections, the people in the middle — by the way, people who last time voted for Barack Obama — do not want to have a president elected based on red meat.

“I’m not going to say outrageous things that can be used to hang [a GOP opponent] down the road. … In my view, [primary voters] want someone who is willing to be a responsible leader, that brings America together as opposed to dividing America. … I am what I am. I don’t tend to say outrageous things about other people that I don’t believe in order to win political points.”

Why has Gingrich surged?

“Got me,” Romney replied.